Jesus Restores Hope In Dark Places
Linda Ann Francis, Pastor
I will be happy to tell you the story of what God has done and is doing through Restoring Hope Fellowship. We are actually one church with three congregations. Our churches are located in the poorest areas of New Orleans and surrounding areas. Almost without exception everyone in my church has lost an immediate family member to violence. We have challenges because of the level of poverty and the fact that most people in my church do not know how to read, but God is good.
Our population is rather transient. A fairly large number go to prison after accepting Christ to serve sentences for crimes committed. Some disappear in the middle of the night because they have been threatened or because they are concerned about Child Protective Services taking their children away. Some sadly go back out and try the world some more. I don't chase after them. We do not worry about "closing the back door". They have had a taste of Christ and sooner or later they will come back.
In the last 3 years I estimate that over 200 have heard the gospel and over about 70 have confessed Jesus as Lord. This year we even have, on a couple of occasions, had an incarcerated person join us for service via telephone. We recently baptized 10 new believers. With the help of other churches on our district who supplied materials for gift bags, we distributed over 200 gift bags to homeless or low income men, women and children. One of the families at one house church who has been struggling to get back into their home after Hurricane Isaac, helped assemble and pass out the gift bags and they were astonished at the gratitude of the recipients many of whom commented they had never received anything for Christmas before. It had a profound impact on that family and made their struggles seem minor to those of others.
There was another blessing as a result of the gift bag give away as well. There had been a great deal of tension in the neighborhood and a fight broke out with both adults and children involved a few weeks before the Christmas bag give-away. During the fight one of the women in the church had her neck broken. She is recovering well. I spoke with the children about forgiveness just before we started to pass out the bags and one of the first houses we went to was the house of the women who broke Christi's neck. We sang "We wish you a Merry Christmas" and distributed bags to the entire family.
I am happy to report that peace has been restored in the neighborhood, kids are again playing together and adults are talking again. God is good. One other blessing: Chirsti, the woman whose neck was broken, had a brain tumor the size of a peach that has gone untreated because of lack of insurance. We have been praying for her as that was all we could do. When they did the x-rays to examine her neck doctors discovered her tumor was the size of the head of a pen.
God is good. It is always good to share what He is doing.